The other day I nearly hit a kid with my car. I was driving "over the mountain" as they say and coming through one of the little hamlets that dot the hillside. I had just pulled away from a stop sign and was picking up speed, while up ahead in the opposite lane sat a man in his car talking with people on the porch of an apartment building on my side of the street.
I'm about fifteen yards from this man's car and he beckons to someone on the porch. A kid, maybe six or seven, comes running off the porch with his backpack, straight into the traffic lane -- no sideways glance, no hesitation. I'm ten yards away now, tops. I'd never had this happen to me in my 24 years of driving. I slammed on the brakes and the car slowed down, inching closer to the kid, who was in no position to get out of the way.
I think the car stopped about a foot from the kid.
He looked at me half a second then ran to the man's car. The man, who was probably his father, starts to yell at him. I catch the man's eye, mouth the word "sorry," because it shook me up and I bet it shook him up a bit, too, and then I drive on.
That's how quickly something so everyday can change on you. I don't know if that kid learned a lesson about checking the roads, or if the father learned a lesson about beckoning your kid out into the street without checking the road (or how about a lesson in not doing a pickup sitting in the traffic lane?!), but I learned a lesson about not taking even a routine trip for granted.